Health researchers in an Oxford study have stated that mobile phones do not have a "blanket negative effect" on wellbeing and health.

The study gathered large amounts of data from two million people across 168 countries, and the outcome of the research contradicted the well-known belief on the potential psychological harm caused by internet use.

The research into mobile phone usage did not include time that was spent browsing on social media, despite the age group of the study ranging between 15 to 89 years of age.

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Professor Andrew Przybylski, from the Oxford Internet Institute, and assistant professor Matti Vuorre, from Tilburg University and Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute, focused their research into home and mobile broadband usage.

The Oxford professor stated: “We looked very hard for a ‘smoking gun’ linking technology and wellbeing and we didn’t find it.

“The popular idea that the internet and mobile phones have a blanket negative effect on wellbeing and mental health is not likely to be accurate.

"It is indeed possible that there are smaller and more important things going on, but any sweeping claims about the negative impact of them internet globally should be treated with a very high level of scepticism.”

Oxford Mail: The Oxford Internet Institute The Oxford Internet Institute (Image: Newsquest)Certain age ranges or genders of the group, which included women and young girls, did not create significant biases of the internet users.

As well as other countries, the United Kingdom was also assessed by the researchers, but it was found there was no clear distinction in comparison to the other countries.

Aside from the data collected by the group of people, the researchers were also able to collect data from technology companies, although they revealed that this proved difficult due to the strong levels of security these companies had over certain data which was urgently needed.

To find more conclusive evidence on the impacts of internet usage, the researchers urged tech companies and online platforms to provide more data.

Commenting further on this, the Oxford researchers stated: “These data exist and are continuously analysed by global technology firms for marketing and product improvement but unfortunately are not accessible for independent research.”

The research spanned across two studies.

In the one published in the Clinical Psychological Science Journal, the researchers assessed how internet usage and mobile broadband subscriptions could potentially predict issues with psychological wellbeing and viewed the data of the user's wellbeing and mental health alongside for comparisons.

The second study focused more on data which revolved around rates of anxiety, depression and self-harm from the years 2000-2019 in 200 countries.

Different forms of wellbeing data involved the assessment of face-to-face and phone surveys by local interviewers, and data on mental health was gathered by using statistical estimates of depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and self-harm in some 200 countries from 2000-2019.


When using our mobile phones for social media, we find ourselves scrolling mindlessly through apps such as TikTok and Instagram.

Most of the time, this consists of saving and posting different genres of content whether it is make-up tutorials, recipe ideas, or visually pleasing edits that we think we will need to re-watch at some point in time.

There is no denying that these powerhouse social media platforms are becoming the new ‘Google’, as users today of all ages are finding answers though their curiosity and self-persuasion on the applications.

Whilst many believe in the popular mind-set that excessive mobile phone usage and social media browsing can be psychologically harmful to one's wellbeing, this has been contradicted based on what has been found on social media platforms such as TikTok.

Oxford Mail: PixabayMinute-long videos have been created and posted to raise awareness on mental health issues, with users discussing signs of cases such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression.

Video creators appeal to target audiences through the aesthetics of low lighting and tranquil music to set the mood, whilst presenting a more positive approach to their viewers by sharing messages of hope and wellness encouragement that fall under categories of “self-love” and “positive vibes”.

Instead of encouraging the belief that mobile phones and social media is the biggest enemy of one’s mental health and wellbeing, it can be argued that there is value in raising awareness on mental health issues, and the talk of mental health alone can be seen as positive because it helps combat the existing stigma in society.

It can appeal to various mobile phone users because it means that accessing help and advice is easy and straightforward as the answers for certain matters can be found on your phone.

It fits in with the ‘Help in the moment, just when you need it’ motto.

Receiving advice and solutions this easily can aid people in day-to-day matters and spark conversations of positive change.